Facebook faces fines of $1.63 billion after hackers gained access to 50 million users accounts and tried to harvest private information including name, sex and hometown. Facebook cannot determine the extent of the hackers’ access to Facebook or the thousands of third-party sites that users log into using their Facebook accounts.
Its been a rough past year for Facebook. The company has seen its stock price take a wild ride and drop below where it was a year ago, largely amid allegations of allowing foreigners to influence the United States elections, not protecting its users’ personal data and possibly censoring some political views. Well nobody said life was easy at the top, the latest news might be the worst yet. On Friday the tech giant revealed that the successful hack of its network on September 25 has exposed the personal information of 50 million users.
The New York times reports that the breach was the largest in the company’s 14-year history. This is on top of the revelation that last year it sold access to the personal information of over 80 million users to an analytics company working to influence the United States federal elections in 2016. The data breach may have extended beyond the Facebook accounts of users, infiltrating the Spotify, Instagram and any other accounts its users log into using their Facebook credentials. Given how intertwined Facebook is with other websites’ account credentials, the data breach may actually be far worse than is presently understood.
On a conference call Friday, Facebook vice president of product management Guy Rosen would not speculate on the motivation of the hackers or whether the hackers were working on behalf of a nation state like Russia, China or North Korea, all of whom engage in cyberwarfare against United States companies. Facebook disclosed that the hack was made possible by software bugs in Facebook’s own engineering. Perhaps its time for Facebook to rethink its famous (infamous) mantra to “move fast and break things” and focus instead on producing high quality, safe software that doesn’t put its users at risk.
Lawmakers like longtime critic Senator Mark Warner (VA-D) needed no encouragement to see this as further proof of the need for tighter government controls of the exploding social media landscape that has been largely unregulated until now as technology has far outstripped the scope of existing legislation designed to protect consumers and their privacy.
The more immediate threat of government reprisals for facebook may come from the European Union. While it is believed 10 percent of the affected accounts belonged to people in the EU, an investigation of Facebook’s compliance with, and obligations under, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP) is expected to begin. The EU will determine if Facebook took appropriate steps to provide technical security and safeguard personal data and privacy. The GDRP requires notification of authorities within 72 hours which is likely why this breach was revealed so quickly. Whether there will be further repercussions or fines from the EU remains to be seen. Fines of 4% of Facebook’s annual revenue or $1.63 billion are possible under the GDRP.
At MyProfyle, we believe this threat is further proof that everyone’s information is at risk from many different sources and that we are all exposed multiple times per year. The solution to identity fraud is not to try to lock your identity or seek unobtainable privacy but to control your identity – not just your credit – by putting yourself in the position know of, approve or decline activity conducted in your name. That’s MyProfyle Free For Life ™ Identity Protection.
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